Officers charged with manslaughter over death in custody

Police have filed manslaughter charges against three officers in connection with the death of a man in custody in Hawera in Taranaki last year.

The charges relate to the death of a 55-year-old man at the Hawera police station in the early hours of June 1, 2019.

The charges allege that the officers were grossly negligent in their duty of care to the victim and that this negligence was a causal factor in his death.

The dead man's name was not publicly released at the request of the coroner.

In a statement today, police said the decision to file charges was made after a thorough investigation and consideration of legal advice from the New Plymouth Crown Solicitor and a Queen's Counsel.

"The victim's family has been advised of the police decision to lay charges.

"All three officers have been stood down from their duties and an employment process will follow in due course."

The three officers have been granted interim name suppression and remanded on bail to appear in the High Court at New Plymouth on June 26.

"As the matter is before the courts, police cannot provide any further details or comments about the case."

Death followed family harm incident

The New Zealand Herald reported that police were called to a family harm incident in Hawera about 11.30pm on May 31 last year and arrested a drunk man for assault.

He was taken to Hawera police station.

During a routine cell check the 55-year-old man was found unresponsive, police said at the time.

A volunteer fire crew was called to assist the ambulance at the police station about 2.30am.

Police staff performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.

Paramedics continued to try to resuscitate him for more than 30 minutes before he was pronounced dead.

Acting Central District Commander Inspector Chris de Wattignar said at the time it was a very sad time for all involved.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the family. Police staff make every effort to ensure the safety of those in police custody."

The death was referred to the Independent Police Conduct Authority and WorkSafe.